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Black Panther Radical Factionalization and the Development of Black Anarchism

By Dana Williams

Racial justice social movements often fragment when their goals do not seem completely achievable. Former participants in the radical Black freedom struggles of the 1960s and 1970s, most of whom were Black Panther Party (BPP) members (and also participants in the Black Liberation Army) and identified with Marxist-Leninism, became disaffected with the hierarchical character of the Black Panthers and came to identify with anarchism. Through the lens of radical factionalization theories, Black anarchism is seen as a radical outgrowth of the Black freedom struggle. Black anarchists were the first to notably prioritize a race analysis in American anarchism. This tendency has a number of contemporary manifestations for anarchism, including Anarchist People of Color caucuses within the movement, and, more indirectly, the many anarchist strategies and organizations that share similarities with the BPP, prior to its centralization.

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